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Old 07-12-2014
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Marine Air Conditioning Install

I'm currently shopping for a new-to-me boat in the 37' range (give or take a few feet). This being Florida where it's 90 degrees or more every day in the summer, I'm considering air conditioning at the dock (no generators).

Some boats at which I'm looking have air and some don't. What would it take cost wise and labor wise to install a marine system? I did a search of the forums and all I have come up with are threads about home window units and RV air conditioners. I would want a true marine system.

Thanks for any info.
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Old 07-12-2014
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Re: Marine Air Conditioning Install

"True marine usually means 2 things. water cooled and price. Most are DIY friendly. Unless you want to go with built up systems and multiple air handlers.
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Old 07-12-2014
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Re: Marine Air Conditioning Install

There are a lot of steps involved and while each isn't especially difficult, they are time consuming. You would have to install a through hull and seacock for the cooling water, pump, condenser, ducting, 120VAC, thermostat, condensation drain to the bilge, and another exit above the waterline for the water outlet. Figure about 20 hours at $90-$100/hr yard rate. Figure about $1500-$2000 for the unit itself. So I'd ballpark it at between $3000-$4000.

Suggestion: buy a boat with a non working unit and replace it. All the infrastructure will be in place (ducting, through hull, AC, etc) and you may be able to just drop in a new unit. Ask for $4000 off the purchase price and do it yourself for $1500-$2000 and about 10 hours.
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Re: Marine Air Conditioning Install

Thanks for the replies. I'm looking at several boats, but one in particular is way below the market for what it has. Adding an air conditioner would not even bring it close to what others are asking for the same or similar boat.

Anyway no decision yet and your information gives me a better idea at the final cost if I choose to add an air conditioner on a boat that doesn't have one.
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Re: Marine Air Conditioning Install

Remember, also the marine air conditioners have a somewhat high electric current draw. Keep that in mind with size of breakers, wire gauge, etc. A 10,000 btu turbo would draw close to seven amps.

I bought my current boat in the summer in Florida. My 33' foot boat has fore and aft marine a/c compressors and still fought to keep up in brutal Florida heat. (Each was 7,000 btu)


Good luck in buying your boat!
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Re: Marine Air Conditioning Install

I've got a Catalina 34 that I put a 16k BTU AC unit in when I bought the boat 4 years ago. I believe the unit was about $2400 and $900 for the install which we were able to do on the cheap. I had an unused thru hull that we were able to use for the cooling water which means we didn't have to haul the boat and install one. We also didn't run any duct work...just one large output vent in the center of the boat. I'm guessing those 2 things saved me at least $7-800, maybe more.
Also the previous owner had already upgraded my 120v electrical panel to handle an AC unit.
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Re: Marine Air Conditioning Install

I have a portable unit I bought at home depot drain into the bilge 10,000 btu works fine.
I vent out of a dorad vent and secure it when I'm underway $300.00
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Re: Marine Air Conditioning Install

I have installed 3 over the years. All 3 have been 16000 btu units. A couple of things I have learned: Dont scrimp on the pump. Get one that will pump plenty of water. Make sure you size your duct work and return air as per manufacturer's spec. If you make supply too small, you will restrict your airflow and the velocity will be high enough it will be loud. Make your return small, and it will choke your entire cooling capacity. Don't use the flex duct if you don't have to as the air flow loss is horrible with that stuff. I have used sewer and drain pvc pipe successfully in 2 installs. Stuff is cheap, thin, and easy to work with. Use duct tape to seal it and you have a system that can be taken apart as needed. Mount your water pump and piping so there are no air-locks or you will have a heck of time purging the air and making water flow. Centrifugal pumps dont like air, they just will not pump it. It is a lot of work, but so worth it when you are done. Good luck with your project.
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Re: Marine Air Conditioning Install

Thanks, DD. You made some excellent technical points to remember.
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Old 07-14-2014
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Re: Marine Air Conditioning Install

I fitted two Marinaire 16,000 BTU units, the dealer is in Miami, and they have been used on an almost a daily basis for 18 months.

They are plug and play integrated units and even have built in gauges for refilling refrigerant. They do need a dedicated through-hull and a good sealed water pump which the dealer sells. The units come with plug and play thermostats with remote controls. We put one in the main cabin and one in the main bedroom and neither needs extensive ducting ducting. Although a better installation would have run ducting to the guest cabin which cools passively from the main cabin.

A helper and myself fitted both units in 2 days. We already had the through-hull and it was just a matter of building a frame in a closet to hold the units and running water pipes including a condensation drain and the A/C cables off the main control panel. Since we did not know enough about making the installation complicated we did it as simply as possible and they work great!

Two 16,000 BTU units are more than adequate for a 55 ft boat even thought we have been either in Miami or south of Miami in places like Panama.

Manufacturer of quality marine air conditioning units and self contained marine air conditioners - Home

Phil

Last edited by Yorksailor; 07-14-2014 at 07:34 AM.
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